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Adventure Cars Family Forest Lakes Landscapes Mangakino Rotorua Travel Weather Whanganui

May 29, 2022 … Waikato road trip (part III) … homebound

This is the third and final in a three part series describing our road trip to the Waikato and back.
Part I covered the trip from Wellington to Mangakino
Part II covered our trip from Mangakino to Wingspan and now we cover the journey from Mangakino to Horopito, to Whanganui and home.

In one sense, our spontaneous adventure away from home was a trip to nowhere. With all due respect to its 1,200 inhabitants, Mangakino is scarcely a tourist destination. On the other hand, having spent six years as a single man in nearby Tokoroa back in the late 1960s, I was familiar with the region. I knew and loved the rhythms of life in the area at this time of year. Sharp frosts, river mists, clear days and dark brittle starlit nights characterised the early yeas of my working life. The smell of logs burning in open fireplaces so familiar back then was still familiar now, though no longer acceptable in most other places.

Our last two days in Mangakino after our memorable trip to Wingspan were characterised by soft but steady rain. That was OK by me. I had lots if image processing to do and Mary seemed happy reading or knitting when she wasn’t managing the fire or organising excellent meals for us.

There was a break in the weather on Sunday, our last day in the region, so I made one last expedition back upriver to Atiamuri and thence to Lake Ohakuri. This was new territory to me. I don’t know how I had never been to Lake Ohakuri before, but like the other lakes on the river, it seems to enjoy a sheltered situation and its surface was glassy calm. No one else was visible. I had this vast beauty all to myself. However, we were due to leave for Whanganui the next morning and there was packing to be done, so it was back to Mangakino to enjoy one last log fire.

We left Mangakino in drizzle conditions and headed Westward on SH30 towards Benneydale and Taumarunui. My love of the South Waikato landscape has been expressed several time in recent blogs. Even in these soggy conditions I find it attractive. Pouakani is not a place I have previously heard of. Nor, as we pass through it, is it a place I am likely to remember. However, according to Google Maps, the picture above was made there.

Maniaiti/Benneydale is a town in the Waitomo district that is home to about 180 people. When I lived and worked in Tokoroa in the mid 1960s, we thought of it as a frontier town on the Western edge of forestry country. It was in fact a coal mining town between the years of 1931 and the early 1990s. That has now ended. Until 2018 Benneydale was the only town in the King Country that did not have a Maori name. Local iwi applied to the Geographic Board to remedy that and it is now Maniati/Benneydale despite considerable local opposition. I photographed this same derelict house last time I came this way in 2016. Back then the green tree was just beginning to appear through the roof.

The King Country is an interesting area. While you can draw it on a map, it has no existence as a governance entity. For that, it falls partly within Waikato, and partly within Manawatu/Whanganui region. All of this is merely of passing interest, as we headed down a backroad from Benneydale to join SH4 at Ongarue. The region is heavily forested and very hilly. The only clue I have about where I made the image above through the windscreen is that it is somewhere North of Taumarunui.

We made a rest stop and had an excellent morning tea in Taumarunui. Then it was Southwards through Raurimu and National Park, heading purposefully for Horopito, home to Horopito Motors. This place is known globally as “Smash Palace” and was the setting for the 1981 Roger Donaldson film of the same name.

The last time I was there was in 2013. Back then in return for a gold coin donation, they allowed photographers and tourists to enter the 5 or so hectares and wander at will among the thousands of rusting cars.

On that occasion, we arrived early in the morning and there was no one in the office. The gate was open so I made the expected donation and began wandering about and making pictures. Mary sat in the car and knitted while I was in photography heaven. After I was done, I started to thread my way out of the maze only to be confronted by a man with a rifle and a bunch of distinctly unfriendly dogs. Awkward. He had been hunting and was a bit late back and was startled to find a wandering photographer on the premises. We resolved our differences peaceably.

This time things were done properly, and I paid the now required $10 admission fee at the office and spent a blissful hour looking at rusty textures and the shapes of cars as they used to be in my youth. There may be a pattern or system to the way in which cars are placed when they come in, but if so I could not work it out. It definitely is not brand, year, nor even the era from which the car was made. I am told that if you need a part for your old car, the staff can nevertheless tell you whether they that or a similar model.

At first I was a bit disconcerted that, near the front gate, there were many cars of recent manufacture that still had visible full-coloured paint and chrome work. I presume they were recent crashes or simple mechanical failures. They were not what I had come for, so I avoided them as much as possible.

There are estimated to be about 5,000 cars on site. As I wandered about I saw many that I have not laid eyes on for years. Mostly these would be British cars that are rarely on our roads any more. There were a few continental models , but by far, most were from Dagenham, Cowley, Solihull or the like.

“Austin of England” was the brand emblazoned on the boot of cars with that grill. There are very few bearers of that brand still running in New Zealand. And yet they remind of of a sunny childhood and I retain a certain affection for them. We once even owned a lovely three litre A110 Austin Westminster.

It was fun testing my ability to identify some of these old wrecks Across the back, a Ford Zephyr, a Ford Prefect sitting on a Standard Vanguard, a Hillman or Singer wagon. In the front row, I suspect the one on the left might be a Renault, and then a Fiat Bambina in front of who knows what.

I said there was no apparent organisation to the placement of cars. This pile seems to be an exception as there are at least three Morris Minors here. I struggle to imagine that there are many useful parts in these cars, or what economic model makes them worth keeping. I imagine that these were once someone’s pride and joy, and were probably washed and polished weekly. Now there are few if any body panels that would be of any use.

If you have seen enough rust by now, I would not hold it against you should you choose to skip this and the following two images and go straight to Whanganui. For my part, I see interest in the different patterns and textures in each image. And I wonder at the story behind each vehicle. A quote from Casablanca comes to mind: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, she walks into mine”. There is no way that all these vehicles belonged to families or businesses in the nearby towns. So how did each car come to be here, so far from any significant centres of population?

Not only the individual vehicles, but the way in which they are scattered around the vast property is fascinating. Occasionally you can see that an attempt has been made to group like vehicles together. It never seems to have lasted though. Three or four Morris Minors together might be the start of something and then a Ford Consul Classic 315, a Trekka, a Wolseley 6/110, a Vauxhall Velox, a few Holdens, a Bradford and an Alfa Romeo throws the pattern into confusion.

Always, the harsh climate, rain, snow and sun are breaking down the once polished paint, and red rust becomes the dominant colour. The odd car puts up a longer resistance. Or perhaps it came into that part of the plot at a different time to its neighbours. Why is that Ford Prefect in the shot above still blue? Why is the paint on the back corner of that car the only bit that hung on?

The land on which the cars are stored is uneven and though there are many flat areas, there are gulleys and small hills. Cars are strewn close together over almost all of it. The tracks left clear for access form a maze of sorts, and often you come to a dead end. Though you can see the home buildings on the other side of the stack, there is no way to get there without risking an avalanche of sharp rusting steel. And so you retrace your steps, dodging the deep puddles in the soggy ground.

Every path you take reveals a different view and models you hadn’t noticed when you came the other way. A person of my vintage keeps seeing models familiar in my younger days but not seen on the roads for many a year. The Armstrong Siddley Star Sapphire, the Vauxhall Cresta, The Ford Pilot, the Morris Oxford, the Triumph Mayflower, the Rover 3500, the Lanchester. It’s not the cars themselves that arouse the emotion, but rather the way they trigger recollection of happy times, youth, friends and family members long gone.

Enough wallowing in maudlin sentimentality. To my photographic eye, the place is a delight in any weather. Regardless of the memories, the stacks of rusting remains provide fascinating set of opportunities to capture shapes and colours, though rust is dominant. After an hour of photography, I decided that though the cars in front of me were different, I was making the same image over and over again, just with different cars. Time to resume our Southward journey.

We had an excellent picnic lunch beside the Makotuku River in Raetihi during a break in the drizzle. Then it was down the winding 95km of the Parapara. In case you didn’t know it, SH4 runs parallel to the Whanganui River from Raetihi to Whanganui and is known as the Parapara. It is notorious for its treacherous greywacke landscape. It is magnificent to look at but prone to crumbling landslips and washouts, potholes and floods. When the Parapara is closed as it is at least a few times in most winters, then it is a very long detour down SH1 to Bulls, or even around Egmont and through New Plymouth. I think I dozed off on this part of the trip.

Fortunately I wasn’t driving, and soon enough we were crossing the Dublin St bridge in Whanganui on our way to our Airbnb in Castlecliff.

The owner of our Airbnb advertised it as “quirky”. I must remember to avoid any described as such in future. Fortunately we were there for just two nights. Whanganui, along with most of the North Island was fairly wet during our brief stay. Peat Park was looking more like Park Lake. We drove up to Waverley to visit my brother and sister-in-law and that trip was even wetter. And then it was time for the journey home.

Wetness persisted all the way to Wellington. We broke the 190 km trip home with morning coffee and a magnificent cheese scone at the excellent Riverstone Cafe at the South end of Otaki. Then the final leg home is much quicker than it ever was in the past. The expressway starts at Pekapeka just North of Waikanae and from there it’s motorway all the way home. I asked Mary to drive the last bit because I wanted to snatch an image of the bush near the summit of Transmission Gully.

Just before the Southbound summit on Transmission Gully there is a forested valley on the left side. Each time I have crossed that road, I have wanted to catch it. Most of the surrounding hills are covered in pines, but here is a remnant of the native bush landscape as it once was. Not possible to photograph if you are driving, of course.

And here at last we are at the foot of the Haywards Hill, emerging into the sunshine of the Hutt Valley and Wellington and home. The distant hills are the Miramar peninsula and the prominent tower block is the former TV studios at Avalon.

I hope you have enjoyed my rambling and the images related to our trip. Now it is done. I continue to post photo-blogs on this site on random topics every two or three weeks. I advertise infrequently so if you care to, you could check back every few weeks to check for the latest. Or you can subscribe to have it emailed to you. Thanks for keeping me company, and special thanks to all who sent kind comments which warmed my soul.

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April 28, 2022 … catching casual beauty

Sadly, the very last exhibition of the now defunct Hutt Camera Club closed this week. Sixty one years of comradeship and photographic endeavour came to an end. No one was willing to stand for any of the essential offices at the AGM, and so it was agreed to dissolve the club. Its assets were distributed to a photographic charity and to other clubs. The bureaucratic rituals were followed, and it is no more.

And that leads me to wonder at the significance of this to my own photography. Even when the club was still in existence, I tended to be a solitary photographer, and rarely participated in field trips with fellow members. I enjoyed their company at club meetings, but kept to myself while making pictures. Though I admired the superb artistry of many of my friends, I was not inclined to mimic their work.

In short, though I am sad to see it go, it has relatively little impact on my artistic endeavour. My style is to be in the world and experience it as best I can. I look for compositions shapes and colours that, in my opinion, might make an attractive image. The result to other eyes is possibly a bit weird or at least eclectic. So, what do I have to share this time?

Say it with flowers

This lovely little cactus was a gift on the occasion of our recent wedding anniversary and it came with some deep thoughts about the nature of marriage. I love it.

Cosmos

We have some kindly neighbours who often share the beauty of their garden with us. These Cosmos flowers are beautiful, though their splendour is all too brief before the petals fall off

Long-tailed pea-blue butterfly

I am not sure how it came about, but I seem to be making more images of botanical subjects recently. Perhaps it’s that the trees and flowers move more slowly and are less evasive than the birds that I also love. Anyway, this was in a public garden on Oriental Parade at the foot of Point Jerningham. I went looking to see what was currently in bloom and loved the deep blue of the lavenders. Then came the butterfly. People malign the social media but I get much benefit from the various groups in which I participate. My bug identification group told me it is a long-tailed pea-blue butterfly (Lampides boeticus).

Sitting in judgement

Pulling away from the garden mentioned above, I ran straight into some road works and had to wait for the stop/go person to allow us to progress. I was taken by the noble pose of the dog in the car ahead of me. S/he seemed to be in a state of mild contempt over the strange antics of the humans.

Home

On a warm Autumn afternoon, I was on my way home from the far side of the valley, along Waterloo Rd. As I crossed the railway bridge, I realised that our house was directly ahead of me. It is above the car ahead of me and to the right of the middle light on the left. It’s hard to make out the shape and extent of the house through the haze, but that’s home.

Old and New-ish

In downtown Wellington just outside the central library (which remains closed pending resolution of the need for seismic strengthening), I was taken by the contrast between the old “Dominion Building” and the “Majestic Centre” behind it. I have mixed feelings about the trend to add one or two extra storeys onto the grand old ladies of the city. This building was once home to reports and editors (remember them?) and clattering linotype machines and thundering presses. Who knows what people get up to in the newer building.

Strait Feronia

A beautiful Autumn afternoon in Eastbourne and I was looking for shots across the harbour in the golden light. The Bluebridge ferry, Strait Feronia sailed in from Picton and presented a pleasant view of herself.

Royalty

Without doubt, the white heron is the head of the preference chain for bird photographers in New Zealand. I am not sure why, but the Royal Spoonbill seems to come a long way down the pecking order. It is visually similar to the heron in most respects except for the extraordinary cartoon-ish bill. These were part of a cluster that seem to have made the Pauatahanui wetlands home.

Mill Creek

Just to the North of Makara, is Mill Creek wind farm. It is a modest sized installation with 26 turbines along the coastal hills. On this day there was a light breeze, and I needed to use a neutral density filter to get the exposure down to 0.5 seconds for the blur on the slowly spinning blades.

Mouse traps

There are many variations on the recipe for “mouse traps”. I love the ones Mary makes, though she has a lightning approach (never the same twice). This batch had sweet chilli sauce, ham, cheese, spring onions, and bell peppers. I had just started eating lunch when I realised their photographic potential. Mary has seen that look on my face countless times before, and she allowed me to interrupt the meal to catch the shot.

A fully functioning death star?

The gem squash does not appeal to me as food, though I like the symmetry and colours. These were taken in my “dark box” and I saw a certain astronomical aspect. Weird.

Afternoon sun

The honey bees have been busy in recent times and I was pleased to catch this one in between two lavender flowers.

That’s all for now. See you next time, I hope.

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Adventure Airport Birds Cars Cook Strait Evans Bay Forest Landscapes Machinery Maritime Waves Weather Wellington

January 10, 2020 … happy new year

Hello! Happy new year to all who read this. I hope 2020 will be your best year yet. I also hope that it will see an improvement in the images and stories that I offer you. So, let’s begin this new year.

When shall we three meet again, in thunder lightning or in rain?

New Year’ day produced no images. The second of January dawned fair and blue, so I went to the Hikoikoi reserve with the ever-present hope of seeing a white heron. Sadly, none were found. On my way out, my attention was caught by the row of pohutukawa trees along the ridge that protects the sport field from the encroaching dunes on the beach. Their precise spacing and similar sizes suggest that they were deliberately planted, perhaps as a part of Project Crimson. This was a project commenced in 1990 to reverse the loss of coastal pohutukawa. I selected three of the thirty or so trees, and liked the fact that the middle tree was at the peak of its flowering season.

Trans-Tasman haze

At the other end of the Petone foreshore the next day, I attempted to capture the very visible haze blown across the Tasman Sea from the Australian bushfires. We have experienced this many times in the past though never as intensely or for so long as now. The prevailing winds carry the smoke from the fires approximately to the South East where it makes landfall on the West Coast of the South Island. The intensity of the smoke and the ash that it carried was such that it discoloured our alpine glaciers, leaving them coated with a thick orange layer of ash rather than the expected pristine white snow. Here in Wellington, local winds diverted the cloud our way, and we are occasionally experiencing quite intense haze. This shot from Petone Beach shows the Wellington hills obscured by it. Our hearts go out to our Australian cousins.

Kereru … the native Wood Pegeon

There have been stories of fewer kereru (native wood pigeon) around Wellington this year. I have to say that I have not noticed this around home, despite the presence of two pairs of nesting New Zealand falcons nearby. Despite being twice the size of the falcon, the kereru just explodes in a shower of feathers when caught mid air by the deadly little raptor. On a very warm day, this kereru was obviously thirsty so it perched on Mary’s birdbath which was obviously designed with smaller birds in mind.

Demolitions on hold

Much of New Zealand goes on summer vacation from just before Christmas to about mid or late January. This is often exaggerated and scorned by the media, but the line of idle demolition machines tends to reinforce the notion. I was unable to get inside the wire fence but the neat row of hydraulic diggers was worth a shot. I often wonder what is the capital value of all the agricultural and engineering machines that are sitting idle at any given time.

Crossing at the horizon

On one of those days when the blue of the sea and the sky to the South are almost the same, I caught a shot of the ferry Kaiarahi inbound, and the Kaitaki outbound. They were far enough away for there to be optical distortions at the waterline.

Airport

On some days, the conditions tempt me to seek high viewpoints, On this occasion, I went up to Newlands from where there are great views to the South and East. There are many opinions among landscape photographers as to which lenses are most appropriate. Most often, conventional opinion suggests a fairly wide angle. Several of the people whose work I most admire will often go the other way and choose a long lens. In this case, I used my 300 mm zoom which, because of the micro four thirds crop factor, gives the same angle of view as would a 600 mm lens on a full frame camera. So here, from 9km across the harbour is a close view of Wellington airport. To the left, moored near the Miramar cutting, is the research vessel, Tangaroa. On the runway is an Air New Zealand Link Bombardier Q300 just touching down from Napier. To the South, nothing until Antarctia.

Long green

Five days into the new year, and the weather is already variable. Mary decided she wanted to walk the Eastern Walkway from the Pass of Branda in Seatoun, down to Tarakena Bay. I dropped her off at the pass, and went to Tarakena bay to await her arrival, and watched the waves rolling in. I love it when the waves are long and slow with a period of 10 seconds or more between each crest. They may look slow, but their power is undeniable. Even better when they are backlit, and the deep green looks like the stained glass of a cathedral. The spray ripped off the tops by the offshore wind adds to the spectacle.

Shabby Chic

I was wandering around behind our national museum, Te Papa, when I spotted this sad old lady. She is a 1974 Citroen Super D. I remember when these beauties first appeared and they were the wonder of the age. The complexity of their systems was such that one reviewer warned potential owners not to suffer a breakdown in Taranaki because “you might as well ask the mechanic for a valve-grind on a flying saucer”. If the car had been in showroom condition, I might still have made the picture, but the rust and the mis-matched panels made this especially interesting to me. A fellow photographer coined the phrase “shabby chic”. In many jurisdictions this car would not be allowed on the road, but it seems to have a current warrant of fitness.

Defying the laws of physics

Walking around Chaffers Marina with a friend, I came across this young man who was practicing some derivative of the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. It seems to involve repealing the law of gravity. From a standing start on the grass he seemed to simply levitate. Of course that fanciful description is nothing like the reality. It involved a violent flick of one or more limbs and using the momentum to carry the rest of him into the air. The landings were as amazing as the lift off and flowed into an astonishing sequence of routines. I hope to see him again at some time and use different settings to get better results .

The day does not begin until after my first coffee

With the same friend, I went Staglands on the Akatarawa Rd. Sadly (for us) the place was filled, indeed over-filled, with hundreds of small children, and this would not result in the photographic opportunities we hoped for. So we abandoned the tour of the park and settled for a pleasant lunch in the cafe. We then spotted this rooster picking over the leftovers on the tables. I was surprised at what it deemed appropriate food. It explored every opportunity.

Leaf contrast

From Staglands, we carried on to the West across the narrow winding Akatarawa road towards Waikanae and as we neared the coast, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this little tree.On its own, it was not spectacular, but in contrast with the dark pines I liked it very much.

So ends the first post of 2020. I hope to have your company as the year goes on.

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Adventure Art Birds Cars Forest Lakes Landscapes Light Manawatu Museum Reflections Rimutaka Forest park

November 14, 2019 … time slides by

Somehow, though it seems just yesterday that 2018 ended, another year is coming to an end right before our eyes. Despite all my grand intentions, I have achieved very few of my photographic aspirations. There have been a few images that I liked, but far too many that were merely mediocre. I suppose I have left it far too late in life to begin the search for mastery, but I believe it is never too late to begin the search for improvement. So that is my intention for the year ahead. I want to combine improvement with the maximum of enjoyment. It has to be fun.

Pine trees at Cross Hills
Cross Hills, Kimbolton

Last week, Mary and I drove up SH1 and then through Feilding to Kimbolton to visit the wonderful Cross Hills Gardens. This expansive garden park in the Manawatu has a vast collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, and somehow the spectacle is overwhelming. I find it difficult to extract a pleasing image from such a vast expanse of colour. I chose this image in a stand of pines instead.

Kinetic art work
Stainless wind sculpture

We ate our picnic lunch in the park near a rather odd art work. It took some while to realise that it was a kinetic work, but a puff of wind started it spinning and it changed shapes and colours. I discovered that it is called “Stainless wind art” and is created by Charlie Jaine from Ashburton and is yours for only NZD$3,500.

Rolls Royce
Classic perfection

A few days later, I drove to Southwards Car museum near Paraparaumu. Their collection of more than 400 cars is superb and, just as with the gardens, it is necessary to focus on parts in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the whole.

The unmistakeable “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament atop the classic radiator of the Rolls Royce Phantom was worth a close look. I did have to polish some grubby tourist fingerprints off the chrome surfaces.

Red sports cars
Red is for go fast

I have mixed feelings about the role of curators in museums. The ways in which they group and display the artefacts can often seem at odds with the the items on display. In this case, a line-up of red sports cars works very well, and illustrates nicely the old joke that all sports cars are red, no matter what colour they are painted.

Automotive grandeur
Grandeur from a bygone age

Across the aisle from the sports cars is a display of conspicuous wealth. I love the superb engineering and the elegant styling, though I recoil from the ostentatious consumerism. This group of British cars speaks of class distinction on a grand scale. The Mercedes cars further on are no better.

Beech trees in the Remutaka park
In the Remutaka State Forest

After a few days of grey cloud and increasing rain, there was a break in the weather . For some reason, I thought there might be some opportunities in the Remutaka State Forest Park. I parked my car in the Catchpool valley car park and it was the only vehicle there. I decided it would be unwise to go very far or to leave the main trail since there was no one else about. Happily, the forest presented an attractive face quite early on the track.

Reflections in a puddle
Stillness

A few metres further along the trail, I found what I hoped for … some puddles. As I have observed before, if I get my lens close enough to the surface, almost touching it in fact, then a very small puddle will provide some nice effects.

Yellowhammer
Sitting back, he thinks I can’t see him

A day or so later, I was at the Marines Memorial Wetlands in Queen Elizabeth Park near Paraparaumu, hoping to see some dabchicks on the water. I didn’t. On the track towards the ponds, I got lucky with some colourful passerines. For some reason they are very shy in this area, but this little yellowhammer thought he was invisible while sitting in the tree.

Scaup
Scaup

Once I got to the water, I was disappointed at the small number of birds there. I didn’t see a single dabchick. There was a solitary scaup or black teal. The yellow eyes suggest it was a drake. I am always taken by the intense green reflections on these ponds.

Goldfinch
Goldfinch

One way to find and photograph a bird is to come across another photographer with a long lens and see what they are pointing it at. I acknowledge Carol for having this goldfinch in her sights. I hope she forgives me for stealing it.

So ends another edition. I look forward to talking to you again soon.

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Airport Architecture Camera club Cars Cook Strait Festivals and fairs harbour Landscapes Light Maritime night Reflections Seasons Weather Wellington

July 21, 2018 … some nice opportunities

Most of this week’s images depict nature in human settings. I rarely photograph people, and concentrate on things that, in my judgement, work well for me. But you can be the judge of that.

Hutt
Sunlight through the valley mist

At the end of last week, I delivered Mary to the airport as she flew to Queenstown to be with our son and grandchildren for some of the school holidays. It was an odd sort of day, with patches of mist, cloud and sunshine. With Mary safely despatched to the South, I went up Hungerford Rd to the hills overlooking the airport and looked back across Evans Bay to the misty Hutt Valley. The Tararuas were obscured, but I was attracted to the trees and the odd tall building peering through the mist.

Rainbow
When you see something like this, you stop and take the picture now, in case it is not there in a minute or two

From there I went around the Miramar Peninsula and screeched to a halt when I reached Point Halswell. If I were a gambling man, I might have carried on around the corner to catch the full arc of the rainbow, but in my experience, every time I delay taking a shot, it evaporates when I eventually get to it. This was the most intense rainbow I have ever seen, and if you look closely there is a second one outside it.

Fireworks
Matariki Fireworks from Oriental Bay

In recent years, New Zealand has begun to adopt the celebration of Matariki. This is the time when the star cluster Pleiades appears above the horizon each year. Many Maori iwi (tribes) regard this as the start of their year. In Wellington City, the mayor has ceased to provide funding for fireworks to mark Guy Fawkes, and has instead diverted it to a display for Matariki, arguing that it is more appropriate to celebrate a New Zealand event, than a failed political assassination plot in the UK. I agree with him.

Island Bay
Island Bay fishing fleet under a dramatic sky

I had intended to do a road trip during Mary’s absence, but the weather forecast was unpromising, so I confined myself to day trips. Some of them were to old familiar haunts such as this one in Island Bay on Wellington’s South coast. I liked the clouds.

Sunrise
Sunrise artistry

Sunrise and I are very loosely acquainted. Sunsets are no problem, but I am not normally a morning person. Sometimes, if I haven’t closed the curtains properly a flare of red will grab my attention as it did on this day.

Maersk Jabal
When I first joined camera clubs in the 1960s, this would have been called a “contre jour” (against the day) photograph. Happily the pretentious adoption of French phrases is less common now. Maersk Jabal leaves Wellington bound for Napier

Most landscape photography experts advocate that photos are best made in the golden hour (the hour following sunrise or before sunset) or even the blue hour (the hour prior to sunrise or after sunset). I agree that some superb images can be had in those times, but I see no reason to put my camera away in the rest of the day, or even at night. This image from the summit of Mt Victoria was made at 1 pm. It catches the container ship, Maersk Jabal in silhouette against the glittering waters of Wellington Harbour.

Wadestown
Winter traffic

I tend not to venture far at night. However, Mary was still away so without worrying her, I went into Wadestown on the Western Hills above the ferry terminal and made a long exposure on a still (but moonless) night.  It was still early enough to catch the tail-end of the two-way rush hour.

Fountain
The Carter Fountain in Oriental Bay

That same evening, I went to Oriental Bay. The Carter fountain was playing and the water was still. I used a feature of my camera that allows me to make a composite image over an extended period. The coloured floodlights changed several times during the 18 seconds of this exposure. I expected that the additive result might be a muddy colour, but was delighted at the way it separated three of the colour phases.

Nightlights
Waterloo Quay all lit up

From the same vantage point, I turned 90 degrees to the left and loved the night cityscape. The building on the left presents an obsidian black face during the day, but with the lights on at night, all is revealed. As much as I love nature, I also love the colours and textures of of the city.

See you next time

 

 

 

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adversity Bees Cars harbour Landscapes Light Lower Hutt Manawatu Masterton Masterton Petone Wairarapa Weather Wellington

February 2, 2018 … all good things come to an end, eventually

January has been a month of mixed fortunes. Weather-wise, from my photographic point of view, it was great, with sun, little wind and lots of warmth. That has now been replaced by a severe gale suddenly lashing central New Zealand. And I could have done without the catastrophic engine failure I experienced during a trip to the Wairarapa last week.

Reflection
I often wonder at the wisdom of glass-curtain architecture in such a seismically threatened city as Wellington. I like the appearance though.

The week began hot and fine. I spent time wandering the waterfront, trying to look behind the obvious, to find the image-worthy subjects. On the waterfront near the TSB arena I saw a reflection in the tower block on the other side of Jervois Quay, and liked its contrast with the Norfolk pine nearby.

Traffic
Evening rush on Jervois Quay …stop, go, stop, go …

Later that day, in the afternoon, I was crossing the bridge from the waterfront as the evening rush hour began. My camera has an interesting feature intended to build high-resolution composite images by taking eight images in rapid succession, each with the sensor moved in very small steps to left or right, up or down and then combining them to a single 40 megapixel file. It is intended for still subjects, but I wondered what it would make of the traffic below. As you can see the road, the building and the trees are all shown as they should be. The rendering of the moving vehicles is interesting and to my mind, as I hoped, catches the sense of the slow-moving step by step progress towards home.

Otahoua
The transmission tower atop Otahoua Hill to the East of Masterton is a visible landmark for miles around.

Then came my day of madness. Despite a forecast temperature of 33ºC, I crossed the hill into the Wairarapa and just a little to the East of the town is the Te Ore Ore – Bideford Rd. You can guess the names of the two localities it connects.  Otahoua hill overlooking a large expanse of somewhat dry-looking grain caught my attention.

Panorama
Somewhere between Ihuraua and Alfredton, there was birdsong and the hum of bees and the thermometer was nudging 33ºC

The road from there, through to Dannevirke, though picturesque, is long, winding and narrow, and in places quite rough. My car chose that remote spot to start sending me distress messages via the temperature gauge. I stopped for a while to set up this North-facing panorama of the wild and lonely countryside in the area. Click on the image to get a better sense of the emptiness of the area. The road I was following runs along the edge of that pine plantation and winds on to Dannevirke perhaps 50 km further to the North West.  Very little traffic on the road though I did have to wait until a convoy of motorcyclists thundered past. Then I resumed a cautious slow drive to Dannevirke where I sought assistance. I did eventually get home, but perhaps should have stayed. It is either a cracked cylinder head, or a leaking head gasket. Either way, the engine in the car is wrecked and the cheapest repair option was a replacement used engine.

Blue
Beyond that blue horizon there is absolutely nothing until you reach the Antarctic ice

The next day, back in Wellington, using a courtesy car provided by my dealer’s service department, I went to explore yet another day of magical warmth and stillness. An old man got in his dinghy and rowed out from Petone beach to tend his fishing nets. That’s Matiu/Somes Island to the right and in the haze on the left is that drilling platform looking for a fresh-water aquifer below the sea bed.  Next to that is its attendant tug, Tuhura.

heat
Haze so early in the day suggests a hot day ahead

Yet another day dawned hot and hazy and this view from my bedroom window promised at least one more day of summer. After that, all bets were off. A tropical storm brought wind at 130 km/h and rain, lots of rain. The delicate people amongst us cheered as they temperature dropped from consistent 30ºC to nearer 20ºC. It seems so long since we had a real summer that I would have liked it to continue a while. Of course, farmers and gardeners were delighted. According to media reports this was Wellington’s hottest January in 150 years of temperature records.  I have loved it.

 

Categories
Airport Architecture Cars flowers Landscapes Light night Weather Wellington

December 17, 2017 … another year runs its course

Even though I have been retired for six years now, the end of the year still brings with it that sense of a burden lifting. Of course, a few weeks after that and the circus begins again. Mary and I are in housing Limbo, with no offers on our present place as yet. On the other hand, we have no external impetus to move, so we need not look for a replacement until we have a sale. In the meantime, we live in a somewhat Spartan state of semi-preparedness to move.

Tansy
Purple Tansy

Photography has had to step back a little despite the stunning burst of early Summer. Now and then I take the camera for a walk on a short leash, and found these little flowers in the rockery. I think they are Phacelia tanacetifolia commonly known as purple tansy. The whole cluster is just 25mm or one inch across. We think they have propagated from the wild bird seed Mary likes to have for the local birds.

Sunset
South Wellington looking across the airport

 

It seems only a short time ago that I was complaining week after week about wet and windy weather. Astonishingly we have now had a string of warm sunny days with the temperature reaching 30 degrees C on occasion. We have had no significant rain for almost two months and there are restrictions on water usage. Still a bit of wind , but some beautiful days.

Lights
Christmas lights on Oriental Bay

Some of the nights were warm and clear too. This shot was on Oriental Bay with the ornamental Christmas lights reflecting on the parked cars.

Mt Vic
Wellington from Mt Victoria

Last week I went to the summit of Mt Victoria and looked down on our picture-postcard city. It’s hard to be original up here, but worth doing anyway.

Architecture
CBD variety

There are those who dislike cityscapes, but I always love the contrasting colours and textures of an unregimented architectural environment.

 

 

Categories
adversity Cars Hutt River Maritime Petone Seasons Weather Wellington

August 7, 2016 … winter starts to bite

If you live in far Northern parts of the world, you will probably sneer, but nevertheless, Wellington is capable of inflicting bone-chilling teeth-chattering winter misery. It is rarely accompanied by snow, but the Southerly wind with near horizontal rain is a mean-spirited phenomenon. However, at this time of year, everything is variable.

Avalon
Towards Avalon from home. The mist is drifting slowly towards the sea,

There have been days that were still, and marked by river mist drifting like a serpent down the valley.

Hill St
State Highway 1 arrives in the city on its way to the airport

There were a few clear golden winter days. I found myself on such a morning on Hill Street in the city. I was strolling happily in the bright (but not warm) sun while the traffic on the motorway below suffered the last of the morning rush.

Estuary
High tide and fair weather at the Hutt River estuary

On another such morning, I was checking for herons, as I often do, and just enjoyed the bright still conditions on the Hutt River.

Sandra II
Sandra II is a sturdy little work boat, seen here at rest in Hikoikoi

Following the 180 degree rule (always check behind you), this shot of Sandra II at her mooring gave me some pleasure.

Northerly
Taranaki Street and Courtenay Place intersection in a howling Northerly

However, as I indicated at the beginning, this is winter, and the last few days have been brutal in their typical Wellington way. My last shot is on one of those notorious street corners where pedestrians need to hang tightly to the street light poles to stay in place while waiting for the cross light. When the light does at last turn green, pedestrians battle valiantly into the swirling wind and take one step back for every  two forward. But they are brave Wellingtonians and it is a fair price to pay now and then for the privilege of living in our beautiful city.

Categories
Adventure Cars Family Landscapes Maritime Southwards Car Museum

July 13, 2016 … elapsed time

Oh darn, another guilt trip. I did not envisage ever letting so much time pass between editions. My defense is that we had a major family event and visitors over the last week as a major distraction from the routine pf blogging.

Laundry
Flapping in the breeze

I recently sold an unwanted device and applied the proceeds to the acquisition of a high quality neutral density filter for my Cokin filter holder. I really did try to support my local retailer, but the price in that direction was $550. It saddens me that I can get the same item freight paid from the astounding B&H store in New York for less than half of that.  I did try, but I suspect the national distributor wanted too great a cut.  As soon as it arrived, I began experimenting.

Strait
Across the water – a clear day

The South Coast near Island Bay offered a view across the unusually calm waters of the Cook Strait to the distant mountains of the Kaikoura ranges.

Hispano
Hispano-Suiza Mascot

The family event I mentioned brought our son David and grandson Isaac across from Brisbane, so we made a trip up to the splendid Southwards Car Museum a little North of Paraparaumu. I find that taking general shots in there is unsatisfying, so I settled on representative fragments and samples. I know tha Rolls Royce’s  “Spirit of Ecstasy” is among the most prestigious of hood ornaments, but for sheer elegance the stork in flight which adorns the mighty Hispano-Suiza is my favourite.

cars
Brass and chrome worth a small fortune

Rolls Royces do have a certain presence, and a row of them with their cousins, the Bentleys are eye-catching.

fire
Fire for a disaster

My last shot this edition was made when we accompanied our younger son Anthony who is a specialist in Disaster Victim Identification (DVI). He was preparing to conduct a training day for his fellow police officers and was setting up a roaring fire on a farm in the Akatarawa Valley. In due course, he would throw some animal parts from the local abattoir onto the fire and the next day, set the course members to sifting through the remains. I choose not to display the more graphic shots.

Categories
Adventure adversity Birds Cars Cook Strait Haywards Hill Kaitoke Landscapes Light Maritime Pauatahanui Vehicles Wairarapa Waves Weather

June 8, 2016 … through the lower middle

True to my word, I have returned more quickly than last time.

Sandra II
Sandra II now seems to be a permanent resident at Hikoikoi

We have had an astonishing spell of fine weather in the last week, not only sunny, but for the most part, flat calm. Those who have been with me for a while know that if there is calm, I will be near the harbour. Down at Hikoikoi, a newcomer has joined the J.Vee thus doubling the number of working boats moored there. She is the Sandra II.

Web
Nature – the master jeweller

With further fine weather in view, Mary and I chose to go to Dannevirke on Friday. This was a “just because” trip with no other purpose than to enjoy the journey, and perhaps to make an image or two on the way. It was a crispy day to begin with, and just North of Upper Hutt, there was mist wreathed around the hills and gullies, and many of the roadside fences were decorated with dew-coated spider webs.

Woodville
Pastoral landscape near Woodville

I had hopes of capturing the turbines spinning above the Manawatu Gorge near Woodville. I do love flat calm, but of course, that spins no turbines. Accordingly, I zoomed back out and settled for a landscape from just South of Woodville.

Wreck 1
Inside the old wrecker’s yard at Dannevirke

We got to Dannevirke, and enjoyed a very nice lunch at the Vault Cafe. Then to lend some semblance of purpose to our journey, we bought some splendid beef sausages from “The Meat Company”, a butcher shop just near the vault. They are the best beef sausages I have found so far. And then I finally managed to make contact with the owner of the old car-wrecker’s yard I saw last time I was in the area. He generously granted permission  for me to climb the fence and wander through the property.

Cars
Vehicles from almost all eras are being swallowed. The Ford Transit van, the Vauxhall Velox from the mid fifties and a real oddity on the right, the Utility model of the Hillman Imp were all intriguing.

I spent over an hour there, and saw perhaps five percent of the property. It is a truly post-apocalyptic scene, withe a large proportion of the old vehicles almost entirely engulfed in brambles or the pest variant of the clematis, “Old Man’s Beard” . Few surfaces are not covered with lichen ans the place was a photographer’s delight.

Waihi Falls
Waihi Falls in the late afternoon

Choosing the scenic route home, we passed through Waihi falls where the water was putting on a fine display. From there we went down through Mauriceville and Alfredton and suffered a blow-out at some 90 km/h on a patch of gravel road. After laboriously emptying the back of the car to reach the spare, and then jacking up the car to swap the wheel, we were soon on our way again, through Masterton and down through the Southern Wairarapa. It was nerve-wracking to drive over the Rimutaka hill with no spare, but we made it home without further incident.

Yacht
The yacht made speedy progress across the horizon near Red Rocks

On Sunday, we went to the South Coast and while Mary explored the seal colony at Sinclair Head, I made images near Red Rocks.

Stilts
Pied stilts at Pauatahanui

On Tuesday, the clam conditions were still lingering, so I went over to Pauatahanui. I have heard of houses on stilts, but here, reflected in the pond, are some stilts on houses.

Herons
White-faced herons are wary

Further around the inlet, a handsome pair of white-faced herons paused in their preening to keep an eye on me as I attempted to get close.

Inlet
Reflections on the inlet near Ration Point

It was a morning of breathtaking beauty and undisturbed reflections .

SH2
Near Haywards Hill on SH2

Remarkably, the fine weather persisted until today (Wednesday) and so I went North to Silverstream where a friend had predicted spectacular landscape opportunities on a frosty morning.

Silverstream
Misty morning at Silverstream

My friend was right, the mist on the frosty grass was just delightful. See you next time.